Some of us turn off the lights and we live
In the moonlight shooting by
Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark
To be where the angels fly

Pretty maids all in a row lined up
Outside my cabin door
I've never wanted any of them wanting me
'cept the girl from the red river shore

Well I sat by her side and for awhile I tried
To make that girl my wife
She gave me her best advice and she said
"Go home and lead a quiet life"

Well I've been to the east and I've been to the west
And I've been out where the black winds roar
Somehow though I never did get that far
With the girl from the red river shore

Well I knew when I first laid eyes on her
I could never be free
One look at her and I knew right away
She should always be with me

Well the dream dried up a long time ago
Don't know where it is anymore
True to life, true to me
Was the girl from the red river shore

Well I'm wearing the cloak of misery
And I've tasted jilted love
And the frozen smile upon my face
Fits me like a glove

Well I can't escape from the memory
Of the one that I'll always adore
All those nights when I lay in the arms
Of the girl from the red river shore

Well we're living in the shadows of a fading past
Trapped in the fires of time
I've tried not to ever hurt anybody
And to stay out of the life of crime

And when it's all been said and done
I never did know the score
One more day is another day away
From the girl from the red river shore

Well I'm a stranger here in a strange land
But I know this is where I belong
I ramble and gamble for the one I love
And the hills will give me a song

Though nothing looks familiar to me
I know I've stayed here before
Once a thousand nights ago
With the girl from the red river shore

Well I went back to see about her once
Went back to straighten it out
Everybody that I talked to had seen us there
Said they didn't know who I was talking about

Well the sun went down on me a long time ago
I've had to pull back from the door
I wish I could've spent every hour of my life
With the girl from the red river shore

Now I've heard about a guy who lived a long time ago
A man full of sorrow and strife
That if someone around him died and was dead
He knew how to bring him on back to life

Well I don't know what kind of language he used
Or if they do that kind of thing anymore
Sometimes I think nobody ever saw me here at all
'Cept the girl from the red river shore


Lyrics submitted by smallwonderrobot

Red River Shore song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +2
    My InterpretationThis song/poem is about obsession and how obsession changes your reality. Love can be an obsession as can hate or any human emotion. The man in the song is obsessed with this woman so much that his reality has become twisted and his existence no longer makes sense...he in fact no longer exists, he has died from his obsession like Lazarus died from disease and now looks to a Saviour to bring him back to life. It is a chilling look at the crippiling power of unrequited love.
    mindfull51on May 14, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI read an interpretation of this song on another side that I think is the most fitting.

    The song is about a young man in love with a girl, but she dies early and the man can't accept it. In fact, he starts imagining her alive so strongly he practically hallucinates it.
    But now he's old and reflects ver the fact that she's not real.

    Several lines give clues to much of it being imagination.

    "Though nothing looks familiar to me
    I know I've stayed here before"

    It's a world he imagined, the real world seems strange to him.

    "Everybody that I talked to had seen us there
    Said they didn't know who I was talking about"

    Pretty self-explanatory.

    "Some of us turn off the lights and we live
    In the moonlight shooting by
    Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark
    To be where the angels fly"

    Some are affected by death, others are not. He is.

    etc.

    But ss always with Dylan, this is probably just scratching on the surface.
    Loseridoon April 29, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationLast night, July 31, I awoke at 3 a.m. to a full moon outside my window, above a clear black sky. The moon shone right through onto the bed. I lay there awake just staring up at it, and began thinking of the opening lines of this song,

    Some of us turn off the lights and we live
    In the moonlight shooting by
    Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark
    To be where the angels fly

    After hundreds of listens over the past four years, I think I understand what it means, now. We go to bed at night and accept the limitations, and troubles, that life (or God) hands us, or we lie awake most nights, forever unsettled about the troubled events and losses in our life, and carry that despair with us until the time of our death.

    Years go by. The world keeps spinning, thus ever-changing for those who don’t have the same aching pain inside as Dylan’s writer, or as those of us who have experienced such hurt. Wordsworth once described in “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” about how places stay the same, but, people change. Wordsworth and Dylan are both describing a time period of many years. But, where Wordsworth is speaking of his return to the place of his youth many years later, he observes of himself, “Though changed, no doubt, from what I was, when first I came among these hills…”, Dylan is speaking about living in the memory of how his character once remembered the girl a long time ago. Years have gone by. Yet, he hasn’t changed, and neither have his memories of the girl. His memories of her are, in essence, the same as our own memories of those who we once knew, because we are all “living in the shadows of a fading past” and “trapped in the fires of time”. He knew the girl for a (possibly) brief period of time. His memories of her are fixed. Though, his recollections of the place where he knew her are no longer there, as places do changed over time. He becomes a “stranger in a strange land”, and no one seems to remember him or the girl. They have become “Rank Strangers” to him, if you will.

    Our memories become our perspective. No one else can share the same perspective, especially after the years have faded those memories to the point where revisionist history begins to occur, to some extent.

    Nearing the end of his life as the “sun went down on me a long time ago”, but “had to pull back from the door”, he discloses what so many of us also feel as we near the end of our own lives. That is; regret, disappointment, and discontentment with our lives cause us to not be ready to embrace death, as it closes in on us. His one regret is not being able to spend “every hour of my life with the girl from the red river shore”.

    Anyone who has ever loved someone deeply, or experienced a profound, unlimited love only to have lost that love without understanding why, would do anything including being brought back to life to be with that person. The writer recalls the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and wonders “I don't know what kind of language he used or if they do that kind of thing anymore”. This makes one come to the sober conclusion that loss is eventual, and that the ones we love are on loan, and our days with them are numbered.

    Some of us have a person we once knew, a long time ago, who had graced our lives with such an extreme, intense presence that our experience of that person and our loss of that person causes our memory to remain fixed, forever halted in time. Years go by. The world keeps spinning for everyone else around us. For us, the world stopped the day we lost them. For the writer, the same holds true. Dylan is correct when he states, we are all “living in the shadows of a fading past”, because human beings “move on” and forget the people of our past, who weren’t as important to us. Time and memory, often fade away.

    In the end, he comes to the realization that, “Sometimes I think nobody ever saw me here at all, 'cept the girl from the red river shore”, because to everyone else, they were just two people. To the writer, the girl from the red river shore is someone he’ll never ever forget, even upon his death. And even then, he’s wondering if God can bring him back from the dead, so he can continue his quest to be with her.

    One more day is another day away
    From the girl from the red river shore

    ***This is a song I have listened to so many times, because it reminds me of someone I lost once, and dealing with that loss is a daily struggle, often "scaring myself to death in the dark to be where the angels fly". The "moonlight shooting by" last night was only a memory of how I used to feel prior to the day she was born.
    StevenPascalion August 01, 2015   Link
  • 0
    My Opinionwhat a great song. i love it... best song on tell-tale signs.
    Spakizon March 22, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThese are some of my all time favourite lyrics:

    Now I've heard about a guy who lived a long time ago
    A man full of sorrow and strife
    That if someone around him died and was dead
    He knew how to bring him on back to life

    Well I don't know what kind of language he used
    Or if they do that kind of thing anymore
    Sometimes I think nobody ever saw me here at all
    'Cept the girl from the red river shore

    They really remind me of Nick Cave.
    Monkeyman82on September 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was in hospital, put into Intensive Care, there was the Radio, playing low . Bob Dylan and The girl from the red river shore. I had a strange effect on me, the nurse was sorry I had to hear it, I nerver heard a song like it, The girl from the red shore, I never forgotten it. Bob Dylan you are a wonder.





    2
    oliverburnson September 18, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just think this is about Dylan and his thoughts. As he has gotten older his music has changed and I think he is in a way more direct. he is more cynical these Days and many songs I think he looks back at his life.

    for me this song is about a girl he once knew.he has aways been a believer of true love and Always (i Think) wanted to have that true love with someone. In my thoughts, every time Bob sings about "I" or "me" I think it is about him and so is this one. The phrase "And the frozen smile upon my face Fits me like a glove" simply means (to me) that Bob acts more happy than he is, when it comes to be alone and not together with anyone. Its like his song Dark Eyes where "it is time to smile". Another parallell to the song Dark Eyes is the phrase "Im a stranger here, in a strange land". Bob has always considered himself of "not belonging" and in the song Dark Eyes he sings "I am from Another World".

    In the end it is a reference to Jesus, and not saying that he still a christian but Bob feels dead inside and wants something to "Wake" him up. He dont know if Jesus still do that.

    So, I see this as one of Bobs more darker songs about his own thoughts, looking back at his life and regreting losing that special someone a long time ago
    QuickJ27on February 27, 2014   Link

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